The galaxy far, far away is a universe of limitless possibilities, a place that transcends the laws of physics and traditional science in fantastical, beautiful ways. It’s also a mysterious place, with a complicated afterlife we can’t quite quantify and Force-fueled realms that exist out of time. In the Star Wars universe, “no one is ever really gone,” because they will always exist in some way: ephemerally or physically, alive or in the unknowable space of whatever comes next.
These are all things to ponder when it comes to Ben Solo. The man formerly known as Kylo Ren—who shed his layers of pain in the final moments of The Rise of Skywalker and helped Rey save the galaxy—got an odd final note for a Skywalker. While we see the Force ghosts of his mother, Leia Organa, and uncle, Luke Skywalker, we never see what becomes of Ben after he gives his life to Rey. Is he a Force ghost now? Or did his Dark Side tendencies prevent that?
One thing we know with certainty: Star Wars characters always come back, in one way or another. Be that a prequel series, an animated show, a video, or some other canonical iteration, it’s highly unlikely we’ve seen the last of Ben Solo. But how could he appear in the future? Here are some of our best guesses, based on what we know for the Star Wars universe and the character.
The Force Dyad
This is less of a way Ben Solo could return, and more of a reason for it. We learn in The Rise of Skywalker that Ben is one-half of a “Force dyad,” the other half being Rey. In lore, we know that this relates to the Sith “Rule of Two,” and that through a mysterious Force bond, the two became a singular powerful entity; the most powerful entity. Emperor Palpatine drained their bond from them near the film’s end, before Rey channeled the Jedi of yore and defeated him once and for all. But symbolically, it would seem Rey’s fate and Ben’s will forever intertwine, especially since he gave his life to save hers.
There are a few implications that come from that. We know that to heal something with the Force, you insert a bit of yourself into the body you’re healing. That means Ben is likely still a part of Rey in some way, cementing their bond forever. Perhaps this mean that going forward, Rey may carry elements of Ben’s character with her: his intuition, his charm, his knowledge, what have you. But does that mean Ben’s essence is literally trapped in her? Probably not.
The World Between Worlds
This is a popular fan theory, and for good reason. The World Between Worlds was introduced in Star Wars Rebels and is the ultimate “here’s how we can see dead characters again” get-around. It’s responsible for bringing Ahsoka back from the brink of death during her confrontation with Darth Vader. It also showed us Palpatine trapped in time, looking for ways to manipulate the Force so that he might never be destroyed. It’s a plane where time exists all at once, but we don’t know exactly what that means as our time there has, to date, been rather brief.
It’s very possible that in some future animated series or film, we’ll visit Ben Solo in this place. Perhaps when he existed as Kylo Ren, or perhaps as some other manifestation. This would be an interesting way to remind us of the character without necessarily shoving him into the main plot of another series. (Not that we’re opposed to that, of course.) We already know he exists in this place in some way as it is, since Ezra hears his voice in the Rebels episode set in the World Between Worlds. We also know that Rey was studying the World Between Worlds in the Jedi books she took from the tree on Ahch-To. Might she go there to retrieve or interact with Ben?
Kylo Ren was a member of the Dark Side, but the Ben Solo in him snuck light through the cracks. When he fully transformed back to Ben, and wielded his grandfather’s blue lightsaber, we got to see the man he could have been without that dark temptation: brave, skilled, spunky, romantic. It’s one of the great tragedies of Star Wars; that good men like Anakin and Ben, both manipulated and brainwashed by Palpatine, never got to live out the lives they deserved.
However, Star Wars is also about the choices we make and how that determines our fate. And Ben Solo as Kylo Ren, even under manipulation, made choices. But that doesn’t mean they needed to be punishable by death; it’s frustrating that Star Wars seems disinterested in redemption through life, and what atonement looks like. And yet, they made their choice, so the most likely way we’ll see a future Ben Solo is as a Force ghost.
Remember that Vader was redeemed back to Anakin in the afterlife even after a lifetime of evil choices. In lore, we know that Light Side users taught him shortly after death. They intervened to help him become a Force ghost. Given that Ben crossed over at the same time as Leia, it’s likely she and Luke did the same for him. This could play into Luke’s line in The Last Jedi: “See you around, kid.” He was quoting Han, but it could also be a literal nod to being with him again one day, depending on who takes on the story next and what weight they apply to which lines.
We’d love to see Ben Solo’s Force ghost aiding the next generation of Force users. Or Rey. Or both. His story should be a lesson to whatever comes next. A way to keep the Skywalker legacy alive, as both a lesson and a warning.
Featured Image: Lucasfilm